pervasive, it prompted the f.b.i. to put out a warning. the bureau says it's getting dozens of ransom ware complaints each day. >> it's one of the more destructive pieces of mall ware because -- malware because they'll encrypt the files. if you don't pay, they can just delete them. >> reporter: the hackers use such complicated methods, it's virtually impossible to recover your data. it's believed most are operating overseas so track be them down has become -- tracking them down has become futile as well. one reason some fall for the scam? the messages look like they're coming from the government accusing users of things like child pornography. >> it frightens people and preys on their fear. >> in retrospect, the amount of grief this will cause us would have been well worth the ransom but that wasn't the approach we took. >> reporter: steve never did pay the ransom nor degette his data back, -- did he get his data back, even after taking his computer to some of the best experts in the industry. if. >> if you think you've been a victim of ransom ware, you'll need to reach out for assistance.